Earlier this week, scientists revealed new information about Belone, a baby bird discovered almost perfectly preserved in amber. This hatchling is close to 100 million years old and would have been a contemporary of dinosaurs.
According to a new study about it, the same element which ensured its preservation is also the cause behind this baby bird’s untimely end.
Belone Found Its End and Also Prolonged Existence In Amber
This is not the first time that people discover feathers and fossilized remains in amber. A famous example on the matter would be the detection of the remains of a dinosaur and its feathered tail. But also of a fighter ant and several plant species.
Belone came as a surprise to its discoverers from more than one point of view. The piece of amber containing it was acquired back in 2014 in Myanmar. Its buyer, Guang Chen, was expecting to study a strange “lizard claw inclusion”. Chen is the director of the Hupoge Amber Museum in Tengchong City in China.
Together with his colleagues and study co-leader Lida Xing, he examined the piece of amber with some help from CT imaging. This help cast a look beyond the carbonized plant remains, clay filled-bubbles, and also thick layers of amber.
“It’s the most complete and detailed view we’ve ever had. Seeing something this complete is amazing. It’s just stunning,” stated Ryan McKellar, part of Canada’s Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina and this new study.
The amber helped preserve a part of the bird’s head, neck, a hind leg, and also parts of a wing. Also, the team was surprised to find “translucent sheets of skin”, ones that connected many of the remaining body regions. Belone was determined to be just a few days or weeks old when it met its end.
This was most likely provoked by the hatchling’s falling into a pool of sap. Although it struggled to escape, as can be noted from its position, the baby bird found its end in the future piece of amber.
The hatchling was also determined to be part of the Enantiornithes or “opposite birds” avian family. Contemporary with dinosaurs in the Cretaceous, the species went extinct some 66 million years ago.
More details about Belone can be accessed in a paper in the journal Gondwana Research. The baby bird and its amber tomb are on display this summer at the Shanghai Museum of Natural History.
Image Source: Wikimedia